Tootsie Roll

As a child, I received a lot of Tootsie Rolls at Halloween, trick and treating. They were bought in bulk so parents could hand out several. Though I liked the Tootsie Pop the best. Per parents permission, I passed Tootsie Pops out to kindergarten students this year and was surprised how much they loved them. An old product continues to provide new flavor and excitement. Growing up in the 1950’s, Tootsie Roll sponsored children’s programs while many of us remember their commercials. Manufactured in New York in 1896 by Leo Hirshfield, the now Chicago-based company has grown to become one of the country’s largest candy companies. In 1931, Sweets Corp. which owned Tootsie Roll, extended the line with the Tootsie Pop, a Tootsie Roll center coated with a hard-candy shell on a lollipop stick. The company struggled during the Great Depression in New York. However, finally came to Chicago.

According to Dining Chicago, in 1966, Sweets Corp. changed its name to Tootsie Roll Industries and opened the Chicago plant at 7401 S. Cicero Ave. that is now its headquarters. Melvin Gordon, CEO for several decades and who passed away in 2015 at 95 believed in hiring Chicagoan’s and kept the headquarters here for that reason. I knew several who worked for the company that offered great benefits. His wife worked by side with him, married for 65 years and was CEO.

The company also operates factories in four other states, plus Mexico and Canada. The manufacturer claims to produce more than 64 million Tootsie Rolls. Tootsie brands include: Tootsie Roll, Tootsie Pop, Charms Blow Pop, Mason Dots, Andes, Sugar Daddy, Charleston Chew, Dubble Bubble, Razzles, Caramel Apple Pop, Junior Mints, Cella’s Chocolate-Covered Cherries, and Nik-L-Nip.

Number 23 and telephone exchanges

During school one day, I sat with kindergarten students watching the teacher talk about numbers and I heard the number 23. And after that, I was gone into my own special memory of the number that was assigned to me during my own kindergarten days. All I could think about was that 23. I was number 23. Even without looking for the number among my own memorabilia, number 23 has been emblazoned deeply in my mind since kindergarten just like my Baby Boomer phone number too. Essex 5- 5930 or dialed as Es 5-5930. Essex was a street located in the South side of Chicago.We had to proudly recite our phone numbers throughout our early elementary years. And most of us from that generation will not forget those important numbers decades later.

telephone exchange name or central office name was a distinguishing and memorable name assigned to a central office. It identified the switching system to which a telephone was connected. Each central office served a maximum of 10,000 subscriber lines identified by the last four digits of the telephone number. Areas or cities with more subscribers were served by multiple central offices, possibly hosted in the same building.

WBEZ offers a picture of a Chicago phone book of all the exchanges in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were specific exchanges for Police and fire since a 911 emergency number did not exist. It was PO for police as well as FI for fire followed by various numbers outlining specific communities. Phones numbers surrounding Midway airport started with Midway 3 or had to do with the airport itself. But some were just names that did not refer to any area and were actually used in other US cities.

Decades of kids grocery stores

Though almost summer, I miss indoor kindergarten recess traveling with my cart to their grocery store. I didn’t need money since there was a slot for my credit card not like my childhood store. How I miss chasing the boys who would grab the grocery cart for fun and run out of bounds while the girls complained. Their store was the Fresh Mart. My store was called the Corner Store Play shop purchased in 1961 with a wall phone just with painted numbers. You could not dial but had a receiver to pick up and take orders. The cash register wasn’t real either. Watching old movies my father took, I had several items on the shelf; one which was an old fashioned box of Kleenex that was blue and white. I think food items came with store.

In the 1960’s, the Corner Store was made of corrugated cardboard and I got one for Christmas though there is not a lot of history about who created the store. Peoplehistory was the first place where I was able to find some information about the store. Somebody said that the store had been a brief company promotion. The website features information related to historical events, popular culture, music, fashion, toys, sports, and much more from the 1800s up to the present! They are a free educational resource created as a personal interest project and have been online for over 10 years. Probably the best I have found when looking for lost toys.

In the 1990’s, my children shopped at a Little Tike’s grocery store though they did not have a shopping cart to chase each other around the house. Today, Little Tikes actually has a car attached to the shopping cart. My children had a similar yellow and orange car that they rode….only outside.

Today, it was Fresh Mart by Melissa and Doug that I would travel in kindergarten. From a beeping “scanner” to a card swipe machine and cash drawer, it has everything kids need and you can personalize it too. It is a 70-piece play set of grocery store accessories, including apron, conveyor belt divider bar, shopping bag, play money, cards, coupons, grab-and-go rack with gum, lip balm, granola bar, gift cards, signs, 5 grocery boxes and 2 cans with lids. Personal Creations offers to personalize the apron up to 12 characters with a discount on the store which runs over 200 dollars.

I always loved my Corner Store and for awhile, my daughter wanted the same. Though, not sure what happened to it since many of my toys were saved. However, I think for the first time, my childhood grocery experience can’t compare to Fresh Mart.

Decades of kitchen fun

During kindergarten recess, I would anxiously visit their kitchen, have a seat while waiting for the best in plastic cuisine presented to me. There were several cooks involved in the process; a far more elaborate setting than my early 1960’s, childhood kitchen. They would fight when offering me the best to eat from their own personal menus. It was a constant argument between pizza, chocolate chip cookies, donuts with sprinkles or just candy. Sometimes I would get juice…half filled. Now, without being in school with friends, they are probably learning the real art of cooking in the family kitchen with Mom. I loved my childhood kitchen and after watching a home movie, I realized that I, too, wanted to be in charge, just like my kindergarten friends.

Made in the early 1960’s, mine was not metal like some, but the made from Sears brand that many had in white or pink corrugated cardboard with red, plastic handles that was easy to move. The set included a stove, with glow burners, oven, cupboard, sink with running water and refrigerator. I don’t remember the cups, saucers and other utensils except for a metal coffee pot and a aluminum baking pan for cupcakes. Vintage play food was not as extravagant as it is now. Pizza and chocolate chip cookies were not a big item on the list. My collection included lots of fruits and I did have a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, in the early 1990’s, my daughter did not have a kitchen but her best friend who lived right next door did. They had a special bowl and ingredients to make alphabet soup. She also had a Fischer Price Sizzle and Glow that the girls would try to relocate outside during nice weather but this was electronic. She had a muffin container too. However, they came with the finished product;  great looking frosted cupcakes with maraschino cherries.

Today, play kitchens are not that different with the exception of having a microwave oven, refrigerator ice dispenser and no corrugated cardboard designs. Many are being crafted from high quality wood. Mine went for about 15 dollars. Today, 200 is the average price to fulfill your child or grandchild’s dream of having the best kitchen in the community. During another article soon, we will talk about the best of childhood grocery stores…found right in your home! Pickup and delivery was available even back in the day.

 

The origin of Candy Land

Candy Land has been another favorite game that I like to play. Especially with the kindergarten class during indoor recess. During the polio epidemic which many Baby Boomers experienced, hundreds of children were in hospitals and thousands quarantined at home in 1948. Strange times… like today. It was then that a young San Diego schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott invented Candy Land. Abbott created the game inside a polio ward, as a patient herself; trying to inspire the sick children; taking them on a magical trip through Peppermint Stick Forest or Gumdrop Mountain. She wanted them to experience travels, far from this devastating illness. The game was made for them and tested by the children in the same polio wards in the hospital. They loved it and she pursued Milton Bradley. The boy at the start of the original game had a brace on his leg. The Atlantic offers a picture of the first Candy Land board courtesy of the Strong Museum.

Players had tokens which raced down a track of many rainbow-like colors. Drawing from a deck of cards, they would stop according to the card description or number of spaces suggested. Whoever finished, was the winner. According to some sources, Milton Bradley published the game as a filler to school supplies in 1949 but it then, of course, became their most popular game. Hasbro purchased the game in 1984 and at least 4 versions of the game have been made as well as many limited editions. As of 2013, Candy Land is being sold by Hasbro with a spinner instead of cards. The spinner includes all outcomes that were previously on the cards.

Last year, Candy Land celebrated 70 years of existence. Very little strategy is involved and that is why it sells millions of copies. It is simple; a game producing the feeling of magic and escape when you begin to play. It is easy to get lost in. Above, the board copyrighted in 1962 was different than more recent versions. But, this was my version as well as my own children since I saved that game for them. Even now as the pandemic continues and days are gloomy not being able to play with friends, we are still able to take trips with family through Lolly Pop Woods, Ice Cream Floats, always returning…on my game anyway….to the beauty of home, sweet, home. Regardless of what version you play, Candy Land will continue to take us down a colorful road of sweet surprises beyond the pain real life sometimes expresses.

 

 

Good Old Days: Valentines Day

Saint Valentine’s Day was a feast day in the Catholic religion, added to the liturgical calendar around 500 AD. The day was commemorated for two martyred roman priests named—you guessed it—Valentine. … Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. No one knows exactly when the celebration began in sending cards but their is evidence that it took place as early as the fifteenth century,

It is said by the 18th century,February 14th became an occasion for people to exchange letters or small presents to commemorate love between lovers and friends. But back in the day, it was very expensive to buy Valentines cards and huge boxes of candy.

NJM Blog offers some information about Valentines Day candy. For example, the history of Sweethearts Candy Hearts began in 1866. Daniel Chase developed a machine that could press food dye letters onto the candy lozenges made famous by his brother, New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) founder Oliver Chase. Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolates: Richard Cadbury, son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, created ‘fancy’ boxes of chocolates to increase sales.

School celebrations of Valentines Day consisted of making your own valentines in the early eighteenth century here in America. Teachers would help students make cards; passing them out to everyone in the classroom. Teachers would decorate classrooms with felt hearts and banners. As a Baby Boomer, we brought Valentines to school that were sold in a small red box with a variety of small, one dimensional cards to choose from that would fit the personality and gender of each child. You better pick something that was sports oriented for the boys…never kissing anyone. Your gifted valentines were stuffed in a plastic bag to bring home. The same was for my own children growing up in the 1990’s but Valentines were more theme-oriented celebrating famous toys, stars, or movies. I remember my son sending Spiderman cards. There was a collection of cards with Michael Jordon on them that said your cool and of course, Barbie or Pocahontas (celebrating the movie) was a favorite for girls 20 years ago.

Now, however, decorated Valentines Day boxes that are sometimes larger than the student, are brought to school. They represent mailboxes of all different themes with an opening ready for cards that may be a monsters teeth, a unicorn, a cat, a dog or a fairy castle with a magic door for cards. They are absolutely gorgeous and a great idea for parents to help decorate; bringing out how special and creative Valentines Day can be. Today, classrooms also celebrate Valentines Day parties usually hosted by volunteer parents. Though candy is an issue, the parents bring great snacks for the kids.

This year for the kindergarten students, my daughter and I made Valentines with two hearts glued together with a Tootsie Pop in the center that had attached googly eyes, Looks like a butterfly with glitter heart stickers since the parents agreed to the lollipop this year. Since we have a short week at school, I passed them out yesterday. There is something special about making your own creation and not one disliked the Tootsie Pop or the flavor they received since they were able to eat them in the classroom…all at once…following afternoon recess. Wow…maybe we should do this more often for it was much quieter than usual at one point. Their little mouths had something else to concentrate and couldn’t talk and lick at the same time.

Happy Valentines Day!

Go Noodle…I’m Still Standing and Footloose

There called brain breaks in elementary classrooms which I have talked about before.  In our kindergarten, its Go Noodle kids videos and it varies from year to year what the kids really enjoy. GoNoodle is free for teachers, parents, and kids! In addition to energizing content, GoNoodle has 300+ dance videos, mindfulness activities, and super engaging videos for kids!

Last year, the popular, always requested number was Boom Chicaka Boom-Moose Tube.  A favorite both years is also Koo Koo Kanga Roo, a comic team that does a variety videos that include a funny ride on a roller coaster and weird sounds, just to name a few. This year, right before the next animated movie came out, it was Snap Along with the Addams Family. But now a new hit has become the winning choice.

As the teacher selected the hit and it began to play, I wasn’t paying attention to the kids dancing on the screen. It was the music, the song that hit before I looked up. It was Elton John from 1982 when I’m Still Standing was released and played over and over…yeah, yeah, yeah. In fact when I hear the song one time, I can’t get the lyrics to stop playing in my head. And now I’m Still Standing is recorded by Go Noodle; a top hit in another decade. But it is the dance troup that the kids follow which is two girls and a boy that perform a variety of dance moves that the kids truly take the time to figure and follow. It is amazing to watch the kids become better after each time the video is played.

After researching Noodle Television, there are more from the Baby Boomers era from this kid trio including Footloose. Footloose is a 1984 American musical drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small western town where he lives with his mother, aunt, and uncle. Throughout the movie, McCormack is seen attempting to overturn the ban on dancing, which resulted from the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow).

The movie received mixed reviews but the song by Kenny Loggins has been popular. Another Footloose movie came out in 2011 where city teenager, the same Ren MacCormack moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace.

Lose your blues, kick off your Sunday shoes. The video has a row, top and bottom, of dancing shoes. When it first came out in the early 1980’s, many rock and roll fans thought it was a stupid song. Not anymore. Not for the elementary students today following their favorite dance troupe.

The Good Old Days: Grandparents and Thanksgiving

Kempton was always known as the small town with the big heart; the town of my mother’s family beginnings; her grandparents, my grandmother who had passed away in 1958, aunts, uncles and my great aunt, Lulu Pearl. My earliest memories of Kempton were on Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Lu’s two bedroom corner, blue cottage neatly painted in white trim. A vegetable garden was meticulously maintained in the back with her specialties of beets and tomatoes while well-trimmed shrubs surrounded the foundation of the home.

Coming from the city, my immediate family was always the first to arrive while Aunt Lu called the others to join us on her believe it or not box phone with crank and real receptionist named Jenny. That gave me plenty of time to cut out the latest Betsy McCall and her clothes. After the rest of the family arrived, we took our places behind the long table in the dining room eating from her blue willow dishes. Pumpkin pie was always her winning recipe.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break is Grandparents Day at school; a wonderful time for those traveling to see their grandchildren. For our district, Grandparents Day is usually one of the biggest attended events with just grandparents…not sons or daughters who have kindergarten or early elementary children. Just for Grandma,  Grandpa and Grand friends…sometimes Aunts or Uncles if Grandma can’t attend. Over 300 attended today. Many become new Grandparents on that day for children who do not have a guest. A study out of the University of Oxford found children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.

Though she never learned to drive, Aunt Lu would find her way to our house in the city by my cousin every summer. I could always count on a game of Yahtzee every time I offered and she always made the best fried potatoes in town. Because of unpredictable weather, the winter months were generally confined to her little town in Kempton but one year she came to stay and had arrived two days after Christmas. It was unusual for her to venture out in the cold months but my father was in the hospital. Children were not allowed to visit during the 1960’s and Aunt Lu felt she could help.

During her first night’s visit, the phone had disturbed our usual game of Yahtzee and after that I found that Aunt Lu could offer so much more than games. It was a nurse from the hospital; my father had passed away. Though I was 12 and tried to be adult, Aunt Lu let me cry as long as it took, keeping her arms around me, never tiring or disturbing me from my tears. What incredible timing for Aunt Lu’s calming patience in such a terrible storm. Ten years later, Aunt Lu passed away after passionately celebrating her 90th birthday with her family.

Today, I appreciate the towering strength she provided that day and the strenuous days that followed; never perceiving the no pomp and circumstance woman as one of the most salient women I was blessed to know. And I try to follow her loving example everyday reminding myself that every tragedy as has a reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Over the river and through the woods

For me as a child, it was a combination of singing the song in elementary school. It was a tune that could not be forgotten easily and once sung…the song would be constantly playing in your mind as a Thanksgiving celebration throughout the next holiday season. I also read the poem in a book partnered with an illustrated painting by Grandma Moses. At a young age, I was always fascinated by her story that she became famous artist as a senior citizen. Her primitive paintings were always something I thought I would copy….even today I try…since I loved her country scenes. When I was nine, I received my first book of her paintings.

The poem was originally published as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”  and written in 1844, Lydia Maria Child. And it was not about going to Grandmas house but Grandfathers.The poem was eventually set to a tune by an unknown composer.  Lydia was a well known author during the time leading up to the Civil War. She wrote a periodical for kids and popular books for housewives with tips to help manage their households. In 1835 she wrote The History of the Condition of Women in Various Ages and Nations that was later an inspiration to women suffragists.

In 1833 she published An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, which called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves which did not make her popular.

According to Wikipedia, the original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song. The verses in bold are the ones I and my family remember:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

What ever happened to sky blue?

The other day some of the kindergarten students were drawing a hopscotch game on the playground. When you get to the giant circle that was the number 10, somebody said they thought you die and go to heaven. No…I had to correct them even though now there are tons of different rules and regs for hopscotch. When you reach the circle, you yelled sky blue. I don’t know about others but when I am reminded of this game, the only words I can think about is SKY BLUE. But the children of today did not buy it.

Many neighborhood friends when I grew up played hopscotch together. When I was little, like 4 or 5 years old, the older kids would draw the chalk games on the sidewalks in front of our homes. Using a rock to roll to the basic numbers of 1 through 10 and skipping on each number with one foot but picking the rock up with your hand on the block(number) you rolled to. Now, we did not get creative as the game does suggest today. The rules can include   calling out “one foot”, “left foot”, etc. Children also have to hop backward to return, which requires the reversal of numbers. Depending on the rules of play, children may need to call out the numbers as they land on them.

An ancient form of hopscotch was played by Roman children in the 17th century. The original courts were much longer.There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe. And in some games, sky blue becomes plum pudding or cat’s cradle according to the English.

Make a cardboard game for indoor fun and by doing so in the example, you actually separate the letters with longer spaces in between to help build coordination and fun. Its a wonderful way to learn how to hop on one foot or two which is exactly what kindergarten students are learning in physical education classes. You can actually purchase indoor hopscotch games.  Learning Carpets 79” by 26” Hopscotch Play Carpet is available on Amazon in different patterns. No chalk required! Toss a stone, coin or bean bag and hop your way through the numerical maze.

The next time I see a hopscotch diagram being draw on the playground, I am just adding sky blue in the top circle whether they like it or not. That is why I am one of the playground supervisors at recess!